Today I received an email from The Princes Trust which really made me think……
“The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, released yesterday, shows that the number of young people who don’t feel in control of their lives has increased by more than one third. One in five young people even think their lives will amount to nothing, no matter how hard they try.”
With the plethora of resources we have relating to empowerment, confidence and mental health….HOW has this figure increased?
I’m not about to start spouting that Yoga is the answer (it can form part of the answer, of course but I don’t think JUST practicing Yoga solves child anxiety like this – there’s more here, it’s about how these children view the world and learn about the world on a daily basis, through what they see happening around them)
My mind is whirring as I’m writing this, this is something I am passionate about and is very worthy of analysis/discussion…
“think their lives will amount to nothing” – this indicates 2 things: They WANT their life to amount to something (of course, who doesn’t?!) and they don’t believe there is an answer or solution.
In todays modern world where information is more readily available than EVER before, and so many opportunities to learn literally anything, how do children foresee themselves as not being able to do anything meaningful? Is it underwhelm; have they not been shown the unlimited opportunities in the world today? Or are they overwhelmed; struggling to see where they fit in and feeling insignificant/helpless? It has to be one of the two and both require very different solutions. (Maybe I’ll do a separate blog on this)
“no matter how hard they try” this makes me think they are seeing people around them “trying hard” but not amounting to anything; parents, extended family, youth workers?
This report was done in the UK, not a third world country remember. We have free healthcare and a generous benefits system to support people temporarily when they get into difficulty as well as free support and help to enter work placements in almost every industry sector – there are no shortage of opportunities.
This makes me think that there are either assumptions being made that they will follow in the footsteps of their parents (and they are not keen on that prospect), or that they are hearing that they won’t be any good (at something/anything). Many children won’t be connecting the fact their parents may have made huge personal sacrifices to raise them instead of following what they wanted to do in life and their career (of their own choice). Also there seems to still be this framework throughout schools that the goal is to be good at everything as opposed to having areas of excellence balanced by areas of “must try harder” – THAT phrase “must try harder” what is that about?
My question is this: As an adult are you good at everything?
I know first hand that there are things I suck at, dislike, find boring etc etc and I choose not to to fuss over those things that don’t bring me joy. Instead I tend to do more of the things I am good at or WANT to do because I enjoy them – those things are enough! If I spent all my efforts worrying about the things I “must try harder” at I would not be going anywhere fast – it would leave me frustrated and unhopeful (does this sound like the report?) Many adults feel a pressure to “have it all together” rather than have some stuff we are amazing at and other stuff we were just not gifted in (for me that’s cooking and cleaning). We can fall into a trap of feeling bad and getting caught up about the stuff we suck at rather than focusing on the stuff we rock at!
Think about what your child hears, what do you talk most about? Is it your weaknesses or your strengths?
I get it, it’s so easy to slip into moaning about what we can’t do and what is wrong, unjust, hard, difficult but that’s also the message children hear about the world. That you can try hard but it’s still not enough. It’s also socially accepted to moan more than we praise, a learned behaviour that keeps repeating and growing through every generation unfortunately. How do you respond to your difficulties? Think about whether you yourself have a FIXED mindset or a GROWTH mindset? Do you accept that most things will present some challenges but you have the power to overcome them when you choose to?
In my opinion young people today need to hear, on the daily, that they are worthy and they are capable of doing anything they WANT to do but also that just because something appears hard doesn’t mean it’s not achievable when we focus and apply our efforts. It’s only ever hard until you figure out how to do it!
From a Yoga perspective, yes we are very keen for children to notice limitations and how they feel, which can help acceptance of both and has been proven to reduce overwhelm, anxiety and stress.
It’s important to note however that acceptance of our limitations is beneficial as long as we are not accepting that there can never be any progess or improvement, ever…..that would have the opposite effect of reducing stress and anxiety.
Yoga is a “Practice” meaning it is something that requires effort and discipline….you will only gain benefits through regular practice to become better/progress/improve. It’s not a case of “I accept I cannot do that pose therefore I must never attempt it, I will never be able to do it” – that is not the idea behind “acceptance” – it is simply accepting that there are areas that we are weaker in but it’s not a big deal. Acceptance means we can choose to work on those areas if we want to but ultimately we are IN CONTROL (I refer back to the article saying “don’t feel in control of their lives” and how acceptance can help here)
We are in control of letting go of things that do not serve us so we can focus on what does serve us and create our own joy!
Lastly, acceptance of areas we suck at should be done in love and with respect that other people will enjoy and excel at those areas – we need those people to compliment us and support us! That is what makes the world go round and how everyone steps into THEIR PURPOSE and finds their place…..how everyone “amounts to something” I firmly believe everyone will amount to something when they focus on their strengths and amplify them unreservedly!
I wrote this life mission statement in December which is why I felt compelled to write this blog right now (non-researched, pure opinion and love-fuelled):
“My mission is to use my strengths and passions to help encourage and connect people together to create a welcoming, accepting and supportive place to express themselves and realise their unlimited potential.”